A growing number of cash-strapped Kiwis seeking extra money to pay bills has led to the expansion of one short-term loan provider.
The finance arm of pawnbroking firm Cash Converters is set to grow its team of 50 as the number of phone calls its call centre receives tops 4000 a week.
Cash Converters launched a Lower Hutt-based financial business in 2014 with a team of seven. Within two years, staff numbers grew by 600 per cent, forcing the business into larger offices.
It is looking to expand again, by employing about 15 extra staff who will help juggle the high level of calls.
The firm issued 316,000 loans across its range of products last year. It offers loans of up to $1500, with a monthly interest rate of 12 per cent.
Cash Converters national personal finance manager Erin White said short-term loans were popular with people who were unable to get credit through other means.
“Some people are completely excluded from obtaining credit from traditional banks, and we all know these days with household budgets already stretched and unexpected expenses all over the place, often a lot of people are really struggling to figure out where to get credit.”
Expenses the firm was dealing with included loans for medical bills, vet bills, and car repair bills, White said.
“You take the car in for a warrant of fitness and you find out you need a new exhaust, not everybody has a spare $500 bucks laying around.”
School trips was another expense that “keeps popping up too”, he said.
“It’s amazing how often a school comes up with something they want to do and you don’t get a huge amount of notice.
“And it’s a bit hard for the kids if they can’t go because you haven’t got the money to pay for it.”
“I think for the type of product we are offering, we are pretty competitive compared to a lot of people in the market.”
An as result of increased demand, the company had decided to expand the personal finance department, especially in the call centre, because of the volume of calls coming in was “huge”, White said.
“We get 4000 incoming phone calls a week to the office in Lower Hutt and they do an amazing job dealing with it, but the service level we are providing we are not happy with, so we’ve got to put more people in to be able to provide the service we want to our customers.”
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